Many new mums loathe the shape of their bodies after they’ve had a baby. But they need to learn to love their new shape, because as well as damaging their own self-esteem, they might be sparking a body confidence crisis in their own children, experts warn.
A study by parenting site Channel Mum found four in 10 children have said they feel fat or don’t like their tummy, a third have asked to go on a diet, and 14% have insisted they don’t like their body.
Another one in 10 kids think their bottoms are too big, after hearing their mums’ similar lament.
Overall, seven in 10 mums say their young children have repeated negative phrases about their appearance after hearing their mothers say it first.
So unless mums learn to love their new shape, they may pass their body issues on to their children.
Be proud of stretchmarks
“Having a bit of a mum tum or some stretchmarks isn’t shameful, it’s a badge of honour for what your body has gone through,” stresses Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com.
Many mums (71%) say they’ve received negative comments about their post-baby body from both family members and strangers. As a result, the average new mum spends an astonishing £1,871 attempting to get her pre-pregnancy figure back.
But almost three quarters (72%) of mums don’t achieve it, and admit to being far less body confident after giving birth.
Bodyshaming is ‘ridiculous’
“Bodyshaming in all forms is wrong, but criticising a woman for looking a little different when she’s grown a whole new human is ridiculous,” insists Freegard.
“Of course it’s good to be fit and healthy, but we shouldn’t be so obsessed with perfection that we raise a generation of children with body hang-ups.
“Giving birth is the most extreme thing a woman’s body can do, so of course the shape is going to change. Having a post-birth body is something to be celebrated, not shamed.”
Worryingly, 7% of mums admit to trying to lose weight while pregnant, and a further 16% consider it, despite the proven health risks.
After giving birth, one in 40 resort to expensive body shaping surgery, and 35% say they’d have surgery if they could afford it.
Anti-stretch mark treatments are another popular option, while half join a diet club and 13% hire a personal trainer.
Many mums (75%) are calling for advertisers to use more realistic mum body images in commercials, including ditching images of bikini-clad new mums with taut stomachs on the beach.
They also want celebrities to be more honest, and for those claiming to ‘snap back into shape’ after childbirth to reveal they’ve actually followed an intensive diet and exercise regime.
Almost two thirds of mums say they now follow celebrity mums who’ve been open about their post-birth bodies on social media, with Giovanna Fletcher, Louise Pentland, Rebekah Vardy and Charlotte Louise Taylor voted the most inspiring.
And mums want more ordinary mums to share post-baby body snaps online, with 85% wanting post-birth bodies to be celebrated, whatever their shape.
Love your post-birth body
Mums’ favourite post-birth body part is breasts, loved by a third of mums. Another third say they’re proud of their stretchmarks, 21% like their C-section scar, and 23% are happy with their curvier ‘mum tum’ stomach – like Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.
The mum-of-four was criticised by Twitter trolls for being “huge” after the birth of baby Finley in January this year, but she hit back saying her post-pregnancy figure was normal, and proudly posed for photos in just her bra and knickers three months after the birth.
The WAG said she was proud of what her body had achieved, and rightly so.
Top post-birth body shaming comments:
1. ‘You still look pregnant’ (31%)
2. ‘Your body shape’s changed a lot’ (28%)
3. ‘You need to exercise’ (28%)
4. ‘I thought breastfeeding made you lose weight’ (24%)
5. ‘You need to stop eating for two’ (23%)
6. ‘Hurry up and lose weight or your partner will go off you’ (12%)